Tag Archives: fire

Police inspectorate skewed report to support government clampdown on protests – claim

Whistleblower: this image is representative (the revelations in the article were made by a woman). Many whistleblowers suffer for their principles, in spite of assurances that this won’t happen. It will be interesting to see what happens to Alice O’Keeffe’s career from now on.

The timing is exquisite.

On the day This Site published an article about allegations that a report on institutional racism was scripted by the Tory government to support a lie that there isn’t any in the UK, a whistleblower attacked another report – on the policing of protests – saying it was scripted by the Tories too.

The claim is a huge blow to the credibility of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services. Another blow to its credibility is the fact that it will apparently examine whether there is any truth to it.

For clarity, whistleblower Alice O’Keeffe has said

The official policing inspectorate showed repeated bias in favour of the police and against peaceful protesters…

[The report] was skewed in favour of the government view, with conclusions reached before evidence was gathered and assessed.

The civil service code was breached.

HMICFRS told the home secretary in a private letter it backed the need to change protest laws five months before its report was published.

Some in the inquiry team… likened peaceful protesters to the IRA, which waged a terrorist campaign against the UK.

Ms O’Keeffe’s written complaint was made as HMICFRS worked on a separate report on the policing of a vigil for Sarah Everard. She said the biases she had seen left her fearing a report into the policing of the vigil would be a whitewash.

And, as we have seen, it seems she was right.

That report totally exonerated the police and found fault with those of us who criticised police violence against and manhandling of women at the Clapham Common vigil.

HMICFRS has defended itself by claiming independence – based on nothing more than reputation. But reputations can be broken by facts.

And Ms O’Keeffe has spent five years working for the police inspectorate, so it is reasonable to believe she may know her subject.

Well, I hope she made copies of her evidence and put them in a safe place because if HMICFRS holds any information corroborating her claims then you can bet the hard drives have been wiped and the hard copies shredded already.

The upshot of all this is that in the short term we have another reason to distrust a police service that seems to be working for a totalitarian Tory government – and against us.

And in the long term?

We can expect another report that whitewashes the Tory-supporting inspectorate and gives us even more reason to live in fear of our government and the police force that smashes our heads in its name.

Source: Police watchdog accused of skewing report to back protests clampdown | Police | The Guardian

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You clapped NHS workers – now they face scummy ‘fire and rehire’ plan to worsen work conditions

There could not be a more striking example of the truism that a battle may have been won but the war continues.

Late last month, This Site celebrated British Airways’s decision to end ‘fire and rehire’ tactics.

Today I saw this, from Zarah Sultana – one of Labour’s remaining worthwhile MPs. I include the follow-up tweet for its relevance:

They were referring to a decision by a National Health Service hospital in Birmingham to fire its porters – unless they sign new contracts that put them on worse pay and conditions.

Around 140 workers, who are members of the Unison union, have been told that they must accept new, rotating shift patterns or face redundancy.

Heartlands is part of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, which is headed up by former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith.

The city’s eight Labour MPs have written to Smith condemning the firing and rehiring.

Rightly so. ‘Fire and rehire’ is one of the lowest employment practices permitted in the United Kingdom.

It is only permitted because the Conservative government allows it – and actively uses it in the NHS.

That’s the same Conservative government whose members hypocritically stood in the street and clapped NHS employees every Thursday for many weeks last year.

It seems Tory gratitude only lasts as long as a photo opportunity.

That’s how they can be beaten, of course. They hate bad publicity.

And this should be all over the headlines. Why isn’t it?

Is it because the Tory media are suppressing it?

Well, if you fancy a bit of homework, how about doing something to raise the profile of this issue, like asking your favourity newspaper, TV or radio channel where their coverage is?

Source: Heartlands hospital porters defy threat of the sack from bullying bosses

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Journalist arrest after Kent refugee camp protest shows how the Tories put down dissent

Napier barracks: I believe this is one of the images that led to the police arresting Andy Aitchison. But if he was behind a camera, how could he have been carrying out criminal damage?

Whoever would have predicted that the United Kingdom would descend to this?

The Conservative government, under xenophobic Home Secretary Priti Patel, has opened a series of concentration camps where they have dumped hundreds of asylum-seekers.

I wrote about them in December last year.

The camps have inadequate and poorly cooked food, no privacy, and inadequate shower and toilet facilities.

Camp residents are unable to socially distance, or to take proper precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

They have to sleep in dormitories of up to 28 people – which is probably why more than 100 people at the Napier Barracks camp in Kent have contracted the virus in the last two weeks.

The Home Office reaction was to blame people living in the camp, saying residents (inmates would be a better word) refused to self-isolate or follow social distancing rules that they could not have followed because of the conditions forced on them by the Home Office.

Conditions there led to activists protesting outside the site on Thursday morning, where they allegedly threw buckets of food colouring, water and shampoo or conditioner – fake blood – at the gate and on the ground in front of the gate.

Demonstrators had signs reading: “Close Napier now” and “Priti Patel: there will be blood on your hands”.

Freelance photographer Andy Aitchison attended and took photographs, some of which appeared in local press reports of the protest.

Around six hours after the protest, matters took a sinister turn when police arrived at Mr Aitchison’s house and arrested him for criminal damage.

Really? Criminal damage? He took some photos of a demonstration that was embarrassing to the Conservative government and to Priti Patel and this arrest looks like suspicious use of the police for political purposes.

On Friday afternoon (January 29), a fire broke out in the camp – cause unknown. Fortunately Mr Aitchison can’t be blamed – one of his bail conditions is not to go to the camp.

Patel herself had the cheek to publish a statement accusing people at the barracks of vandalising property, threatening staff and putting lives at risk.

She actually told us that this behaviour was “deeply offensive to the taxpayers of this country”:

No, Priti Patel. You are deeply offensive to the taxpayers of this country. You have made us complicit in providing facilities of such poor quality that they actually endanger the lives of the people you force to live there.

This Writer thinks there should be an investigation into what is happening at Napier Barracks and any connection between that and Patel.

I think the use of the police to intimidate a photojournalist for doing his job must also be probed.

Sadly, I know the UK’s institutions are as corrupt as they come. No such investigations will happen and if there has been corrupt behaviour, those responsible will be protected. Over the last 40 years, it’s what we’ve all been voting for.

Source: ‘It’s censorship’: Journalist arrested after photographing protest outside controversial asylum camp | The Independent

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Victory in fight against ‘fire and rehire’ by British Airways after Unite union secures deal

This is great news at a time when companies seem keen to ramp up the stress on employees who already have enough worry with Covid-19.

British Airways has agreed to end so-called “fire and rehire” employment practices.

The company came to the deal after nine days of strike action over the Christmas/New Year period which the union United said caused “overwhelming disruption to the company’s cargo services”.

Unite had proposed a urther nine days of strike action to start on January 22 but the first three days were called off at the last minute, after progress was made at the negotiations.

Another round of strikes due to begin this weekend has also been called off.

The deal is as follows:

  • End of “fire and rehire” (the last area of BA where this was a threat)

  • Workers will revert to previous contractual provisions subject to agreed changes

  • No compulsory redundancies

  • Improved pay protection for staff whose pay sits above the new agreed rates

  • An increase in pay for a significant proportion of staff

  • Members who did not sign the new contract and were dismissed will be offered their jobs back on the agreed terms.

Unite’s members will have to be balloted on the deal, and it is understood that they are likely to accept it.

It’s a great victory for Unite, but let’s not minimise the step that BA has taken at a time when other firms are opportunistically forcing employees to re-apply to do the same job they’re already doing, but for less money and with fewer work-related protections.

BA is setting an example, and even if nobody else follows it, let’s applaud that choice.

Source: Unite ends BA ‘fire and rehire’ dispute by securing deal to avoid forthcoming cargo strike action

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Turncoat Tories who clapped key workers are now planning to stab them in the back

Here’s a relatively new buzzphrase for you: “Fire and re-hire.”

It has become the latest fashion among big corporations in the UK, with multiple strikes taking place over recent weeks as unions have done their best to protest this despicable practice.

The aim is to fire workers, then hire them back immediately – at a lower rate of pay (and possibly with fewer in-work benefits as well).

This means bosses have more cash to pass around among themselves and shareholders – and there’s the added bonus of causing unnecessary unpleasantness to the people who actually generate the profits that these parasites enjoy.

This week, Conservative MPs had a chance to support a Parliamentary motion stating that “fire and re-hire” should be banned. They didn’t even turn up.

Labour has been all over this.

I dare say every Labour MP with a Twitter account has put up something similar.

The Tory press was more interested in hounding Labour’s Ian Byrne for joining a picket line to stop British Gas from using these despicable ‘fire and rehire’ practices.

Here’s Mr Byrne to say what he’s been up to:

Tory rags attacked Byrne for travelling 42 miles to Stockport during lockdown.

They omitted mention of the fact that he was well within his rights as the travel was related to his job, and he was perfectly entitled to do it.

Also, of course, Boris Johnson had travelled to another country, and the Tory rags didn’t utter a whisper about that!

I think Rachael is right. So is Karie:

The TUC has published an article pointing out that “fire and re-hire” is the diametric opposite of Boris Johnson’s claim that he intends to “level up” the UK – as it levels-down workers’ pay and living standards.

The threat of fire-and-rehire, when workers are dismissed and told to reapply for their roles on inferior terms, has been used in sectors from aviation to hospitality in recent months.

And workers at British Gas are currently taking industrial action against an attempt by bosses to unilaterally cut their pay and conditions.

A poll published by the TUC today reveals that nearly one in 10 (9%) workers have been told to re-apply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions since the first lockdown in March.

Nearly a fifth of 18-24 year-olds say their employer has tried to re-hire them on inferior terms during the pandemic.

And twice as many black and minority ethnic (BME) workers (15%) have been faced with “fire and rehire” as white workers (8%)

The Tories – absent from the vote to support banning the practice – were probably instead plotting ways to water down workers’ rights even further.

After Brexit, the Tory government has an opportunity to inflict huge harm on the people who power the national economy. Kwasi Kwarteng may be denying it but if that wasn’t the plan, where were they during the “fire and re-hire” vote?

Bizarrely, the Tories have been helped in this plan by British voters.

British voters voted to leave the European Union.

And British voters voted to give Boris Johnson a Parliamentary majority of 80 seats, to make sure that he would be able to give employers carte blanche to steal pay from the hands of their employees.

Ask these British voters who they would support in a future election and I’m willing to bet that most of them would say they’d support the Tories again.

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Prejudiced Tories are unfairly denying benefits to people whose relatives die of Covid-19

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Sanction centre: it isn’t a sanction as such, but anyone receiving compensation for the death of a relative due to Covid-19 will be automatically denied state benefits.

Doesn’t this show how sly, sneaky and underhanded Boris Johnson and his Tory friends are?

If any low-paid frontline NHS and social care workers die of Covid-19, their relatives are entitled to claim a £60,000 lump sum under a Tory compensation scheme.

But if they are already claiming benefits and they do this, they will lose their entitlement to those benefits, meaning they could not claim Universal Credit, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit.

Some of you might think that’s fair; £60,000 is a lot of money, after all.

But this is at a time when Boris Johnson has been dishing out huge sums – £563,400 to consulting firm McKinsey for ‘advice’ that is likely to see the new National Institute for Health Protection sink without a trace, £150 million on face masks that can’t be used, an unspecified amount to Public First for the ‘A’ level results fiasco. Why should benefit claimants lose out when these fat Tories are making such a killing?

Perhaps more to the point, other compensation schemes such as those for the Windrush scandal and the Grenfell Tower fire do not affect entitlement to state benefits. Why should this be different?

The Tories have no answer to this question. Their spokesman is quoted as saying, “It has always been one the central principles of Universal Credit that decisions on awarding the benefit should take into account individuals’ existing ability to meet their basic needs, so that we maintain our focus on supporting families in most need.”

But the Windrush and Grenfell schemes are exempt from being taken into account.

It seems the Tories have created a hierarchy of merit – and relatives of Covid-19 victims have been ruled undeserving, even while ministers’ cronies are mopping up the last coppers from the Treasury that Johnson has emptied.

Source: UK families bereaved by Covid-19 lose eligibility for welfare benefits | Universal credit | The Guardian

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Starmer’s inaction over ‘Israeli billionaire’ tweet shows HE’S wrong, not Steve Reed

Clueless again: Starmer’s hypocrisy in sacking one shadow minister but not another, for the same false accusation, shows his hypocrisy – and also confirms to all of us that he was using anti-Semitism as an excuse to sack Rebecca Long-Bailey.

This is a bit of a tangled web.

Keir Starmer has been criticised for failing to take action against his shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, Steve Reed, over two tweets which have been said to be anti-Semitic.

One suggested that property developer and former porn baron Richard Desmond, who is Jewish (who knew?) is “the puppet master for the entire Tory cabinet”.

The other was a retweet of an article referring to an “Israeli billionaire” influencing Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.

Neither of these tweets are anti-Semitic in any way.

One presumes those making that suggestion about the first are referring to the anti-Semitic trope of Jewish conspiracies running the world – but there’s no implication that Desmond is representing the entire Jewish ethnicity in his behaviour; it doesn’t even mention his ethnicity.

As for the other – try replacing “Israeli” with, I don’t know… “Australian”. Would it be racist against Australians to say that one of them was influencing Jenrick? Of course not. And an Israeli isn’t necessarily Jewish so, again, anti-Semitism cannot be rightl applied.

However:

It is only a matter of days since Starmer sacked now-former shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey under the pretext that she had retweeted a link to an interview with actor Maxine Peake containing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

It didn’t – the claim has subsequently been proved accurate – but the damage was done and RLB is out.

The issue with Starmer is hypocrisy. Neither of his shadow ministers did anything anti-Semitic, both were accused, but only one lost their job.

The issue has made the Labour leader’s position even less credible than it was before; this guy just doesn’t have a clue, and has turned Labour’s position on racism into nonsense.

He has to go. It’s only a matter of time until he does.

Source: Breaking: Starmer tells Reed ‘no action’ re Reed’s ‘puppet master’ and ‘Israeli billionaire’ tweets – as Reed deletes tweet praising action vs Long-Bailey. Excuse for inaction implodes immediately – SKWAWKBOX

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Coronavirus: homeless families moved into unsafe buildings. What good will THAT do?

Unsafe: these tower blocks on the Ledbury estate, Southwark, are in danger of fire or collapse – and the council has put 60 homeless families into empty flats there.

What’s the thinking behind this? If the disease doesn’t get them, the building might collapse on them instead?

Southwark Council (Labour-run, God help them) has moved homeless families into an estate of tower blocks that require major works to make them safe from fire or collapse.

The four towers on the Ledbury estate have many empty flats because they are unsafe.

They were built using the ‘large panel system’ construction method, which became notorious after the partial collapse of Ronan Point in Newham in the 1960s.

That’s more than 50 years ago! Why was nothing done about these buildings decades ago?

Families who were living in temporary accommodation with shared bathrooms and kitchens are being moved into 60 empty flats in the towers, to allow them to self-isolate during the coronavirus outbreak.

Southwark reckons it has agreed “extra safety measures” with the fire service in order to ensure the flats are safe to occupy.

What’s the last time we heard of a council making arrangements with a fire service about the safety of a tower block? Ah yes: Grenfell Tower.

What can possibly go wrong?

Source: Inside Housing – News – Homeless families to be moved into blocks with systemic safety issues amid coronavirus crisis

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Bolton cladding fire suggests Conservatives did NOTHING after Grenfell – other than blame firefighters

Tory response: This satirical image from Twitter reflects the public opinion of blame-shifting Tories.

Wasn’t there a warning that Grenfell Tower could happen all over again, if flammable cladding was not removed from the many other buildings across the UK that had it?

I think there was.

And were the residents at the Cube, student accommodation in Bolton assured that the cladding on that building was not the same as that used on Grenfell Tower?

I think they were:

Then, last night (November 15), this happened:

It seems clear that the cladding on the building was spreading the fire. And look at the way it was dripping, molten, to the ground outside:

According to Skwawkbox, “BBC now stressing the cladding in the #BoltonFire wasn’t the same flammable cladding used on Grenfell Tower. Just some other flammable cladding, so that’s ok then…”

But The Guardian has more useful information: “Students at the Cube had been visited by fire safety officers following the Grenfell Tower fire and assured that the building was not clad in the same material, the Bolton News reported.

“However, the planned cladding materials on one part of the facade included aluminium composite panels (ACM) or fibre cement panels, and high pressure laminated panels (HPL) fixed to timber battens on another, according to drawings submitted by RADM Architects to Bolton’s planning department in 2014. It is not yet clear which of these materials were used.

“ACM panels are filled with polyethylene, which, as at Grenfell, can be highly combustible or can contain a fire retardant to make them safer. HPL panels, made of compressed paper or wood fibre, also come with different combustibility ratings.”

It is all very well saying the cladding wasn’t the same as in Grenfell – but if it is still inflammable, then the students were in danger. They had a right to know this but it seems they weren’t told.

In this context, it is a miracle that only two people were injured.

And that miracle allows us to examine the political aspect of this – which is disastrous for the Conservatives.

Boris Johnson’s party had more than two years to clear flammable cladding from all the buildings in the UK that were in danger. They didn’t.

Why not? Was it expensive?

In the light of their current splurge-spending plans, offered in a desperate bid to bribe the electorate away from Labour’s better, costed plans to revitalise the nation, that would be an insult of possibly criminal dimensions.

And it is clear that the failure to take action constitutes a danger to the lives of the many thousands of people living in cladded tower blocks across the UK.

Those people should consider this very carefully when placing their vote in the general election.

Labour’s John Healey has said: “If … reports are right that the cladding has contributed to this fire, then the Government has serious questions to answer.

“As figures released this week show, two and a half years after the Grenfell Tower fire, thousands of tower block residents are still living in homes with deadly cladding. This should shame the Conservatives and they must now act to make all buildings safe.”

You can take that as a promise that a Labour government will take such action.

This Writer would like an inquiry into the issue of cladding, and the companies that have been responsible for it. Is it all flammable? Or is some of it safe? And can those responsible for covering buildings with life-endangering material be prosecuted for it?

Shouldn’t those in the Tory government who didn’t have it removed be prosecuted, also?

It is certain that the principle of collective responsibility applies – everybody in the Conservative government must take the responsibility for allowing this danger to continue.

And everybody living in a cladded building should take responsibility for ending that danger – by voting the Conservatives out.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Rees-Mogg’s ‘common sense’ claims turn the heat on the Tories [STRONG LANGUAGE]

Jacob Rees-Mogg: The way he looks in this image reminds me of somebody else…

Jacob Rees-Mogg tried to talk about ‘common sense’ in an LBC radio interview about the Grenfell Tower fire – proving he doesn’t have any of his own.

He said residents of the tower, which was consumed by fire due to having been covered with inflammable cladding by a Conservative-run council, should have used their common sense and left the building, rather than follow the ‘stay put’ policy imposed by the same Conservative-run council.

His comments led to condemnation, including this from rapper Stormzy:

https://twitter.com/stormzy/status/1191727557349130241

(Apologies for the weird state of the video.)

Stormzy continued:

https://twitter.com/stormzy/status/1191739324901076993

Comedian Russell Howard also attacked Mr Rees-Mogg, delivering Bristol’s verdict on the representative for neighbouring North East Somerset:

Mr Rees-Mogg has apologised for his words, even though it is clear that they represented his thinking on the subject, and has been keeping a low profile since. Conservatives have tried to defend Mr Rees-Mogg – but feebly:

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen made matters even worse by saying Mr Rees-Mogg was “cleverer” than the Grenfell residents who died.

He has been forced to apologise too:

And the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg predictably tried to protect the Tory by pretending he had made a mistake – and got her own roasting for it:

I understand the company that put the flammable cladding on Grenfell Tower is still listed by the Conservatives as a “trusted” supplier. What’s that about?

And how can anybody vote for a party that knowingly not only puts citizens at risk, but causes their deaths?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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